Photographs are by Ralph Mecke
Swedish actor Alexander Skarsgård is one of the few men in Hollywood with good taste – even if he wore horrible trousers as a boy. Or probably because of it? The big GQ-Style-Talk
I love to play this part
– Season 4 of True Blood has just been filmed and we meet with Alexander Skarsgård in his hometown Stockholm. He soon will have to leave for Leeds. The university where Alexander studied English before starting his carrier at Hollywood will confer a honorable doctorate on him. “Of course I’m pleased by this. Fly there, get the title, back home – takes two days. My brother and my mother had to study medical science for six years to get there.” His father Stellan is one of the best known actors in Sweden. “To be honest, we are horribly boring. Everyone in the family a doctor or actor, no imagination”, says the son. But his carrier is going well. In True Blood is the 35 year old the start (the third season is just being aired in Germany on Syfy), this autumn he’ll star as Redneck in the remake of Sam Packinpah’s “Straw Dogs” (premieres on November 24) and in Lars von Trier’s “Melancholia” he’ll appear as Kirsten Dunst’s husband (from October 6).
Mister Skarsgård, in “Melancholia” you appear for the first time on film with your father. Which of you is correcting the other one?
We never intervene. Especially not when we work with a director like Lars von Trier, one of the best in the world. He knows exactly what he wants. Definitely no whining actors.
When googling your last name, your face appears first, then your father’s. Is he jealous?
Our family doesn’t see life as a competition.
What was the best advice you ever got from your father?
“Only do it, if you really want to.”
When did he say that?
When I gave up acting. I was 13 at that time and a child actor in Sweden. But I didn’t want to do it any more. And my father supported me. That felt good.
Why did you pick acting up again?
I was 20, lived in Leeds, studied English and wanted to give it another go. Didn’t want to look back when I was 55 and regret that I hadn’t tried again. I had a friend take a little video of me in the library, I sent it to New York to an acting school – and got accepted. When I was back on stage I knew immediately: Man, you really missed this.
We are a style magazine and would love to talk to you about fashion.
Are you interested in fashion at all?
A bit. It’s easy for me to tell good from bad clothes. I can see what suits me and what doesn’t.
Who taught you to do that?
Nobody. The feeling for it came naturally to me. I never thought much about what to wear.
Did you take things from your father’s wardrobe when you were younger?
Of course, my brothers and I did that all the time. My dad is really tall and it took a while until I could wear his clothes. When I was 15 or 16 I could wear his shirts and jackets. And when I had to attend a ball, he helped me out with one of his suits.
Has he been your role model for style?
No, he just had a lot of clothes. Among them a lot of things I thought were embarrassing. He liked to wear garments from India or the Middle East. He brought something back every time he was filming somewhere. I didn’t get why in the past, now I love the garments. They are really comfortable.
So you’re still stealing things from your father?
Might happen sometimes.
Did you never rebel against your parents?
Sure. For example as a young man I joined the military, 15 months running through woods, shooting, the whole caboodle. That’s a kind of rebellion in a family of hippies and pacifists.
Today you are one of the most fashionable actors in Hollywood. What did you look like as a teenager? Did you have less well groomed phases?
In my youth I was a punk. But one of the 90’s, not with an Iro and studded belts. Still I think when I look at old pictures from back then: What did this guy think? For a while I wore day-glow pink track suits and had long hair. I thought it was a good statement. Thought it was cool and confident.
How would you describe your style?
Hmm. The longer I live in LA, the more I realize that my style is rather Scandinavian.
In a minimalistic sense?
Exactly. I don’t like prints, like clear lines and cuts. Hollywood is full of fashion that’s completely over the top. Even the expensive street wear – pretty hopeless. Everywhere tees with skulls made from plastic diamonds, things that hurt your eyes when you look at them for two seconds. My style is probably European, I mainly buy European brands. Even if I think Tom Ford is the best designer in the world and he is of course American.
Which European brands?
Burberry, Raf Simons. But some Swedish labels too like Acne, Hope, Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair. My basics are almost completely from back home.
Your home country produces quite a lot of good fashion, beautiful cars, nice furniture, great houses. Why do Scandinavian people put that much effort into it?
Swedish people seem to make a point of setting trends or to know the newest bars in every city. Probably that’s some kind of insecurity, we always have to prove to ourselves that we are hip and informed about everything. And not those strange beings who live somewhere in the North in ice caves.
Most men decide around the age of 30 if they want to look grown up and wear mostly suits or if they want to stay the casual type. We’re not quite sure about you, you look just as much at home in black tie as in jeans, tee and trainers.
Because I’m comfortable in both.
Do you own more plaid shirts than formal clothes?
To be honest, yes. Quite a lot actually.
So you are more the casual type?
Probably. But I still enjoy sometimes to follow dress code. A while back I wore a three piece suit by Tom Ford. I loved it, even if I don’t want to look like that every day.
Which suits do you prefer to wear?
As I said, Tom Ford. And Dior. Especially for formal wear it is important that everything fits just right and the you feel good in it. I’m really meticulous in choosing it.
Doesn’t it make you a promotional messenger for a company, when you only like certain labels?
Perhaps. At least I know exactly which labels I can wear.
Who is the most important male style icon of all times for you?
I’ll have to think about it.
Okay: Steve McQueen
My goodness, that’s the standard answer of all boring actors.
It just popped into my head as a friend recently gifted me this awesome Steve McQueen photo book.
You want to hear something unusual? Then I’ve got to say Joakim Thåström, singer of the Swedish punk band Ebba Grön in the 70’s. He’s still a musician. As a boy I was a huge fan of his and still am.
Apart from acting, music seems to be your second big passion.
That’s right. I’m in my mid-thirties, but I still go to festivals. I’m a regular at Way out Wast in Göteborg, the best event of this kind. It takes place in the middle of the city, in a park – and you can spend your night at a hotel. I’m really too old to wake at 5 am because someone pisses on my sleeping bag. And I like to go to Coachella in Indio, California. But in Sweden it’s more relaxed. I can drink my beer in peace, listen to music, there are no paparazzi.
Who made the last three albums you bought?
Wild Beasts, The Walkmen, Bon Iver. I’m an Indie type.
You recently gave a video interview to the “Los Angeles Times” – and wore eyeliner. Does that happen frequently?
Ha! No, that was for a photo shoot. The photographer wanted it.
Admit to it, you use eyeliner on other occasions as well.
Sure. But just at home, when I try on my girlfriends dresses.
And your mane of hair?
Have it sometimes. I let my hair grow in between jobs. On my head, in my face. I like it. And it’s practical. So I have more choices when I get a new job to look like the guy I’m supposed to play.
Did you happen to tell a stylist on set that he didn’t know his job?
I didn’t have to do that yet. But a good costume designer knows that the wrong pair of trainers can ruin the credibility of a persona.
In “Straw Dogs” you play a mean redneck, of course with cut of tees and worn out jeans. That’s a classic rock outfit.
Yes, I’m playing Charlie, a man who doesn’t go out to the poshest clubs every weekend. He owns three shirts, two pairs of jeans, two pairs of boots and a few tank tops. That’s it.
Did you think twice about doing this film? There’s the rule that you can only lose with remakes.
I really did think about it, but not for long. I liked the role. And it was pretty obvious that we wouldn’t just film a 40 year old film again. Our version is quite different.
You have five younger brothers. Did you try to educate them about fashion?
Yes, but I gave up pretty fast. Gus, the oldest, liked hip hop and I liked punk. Our rooms were right next to each other. I played the Adverts, The Clash or The Sex Pistols. He played Gansta-Rap. We just didn’t find any common ground.
Did you get over your differences in style?
Ashton Kutcher told us once in an interview that he rents a warehouse for his clothes. And every time he needs something, it will be sent to him via courier. Do you have something like this?
I have to disappoint you. I don’t even have a separate room for my things. Just a wardrobe.
But you are a Hollywood star.
I’m one of those people who wears the things he likes all the time.
You don’t even have a thing for shoes?
I own four or five pairs of sneakers, most from Common Projects, a few boots and a pair of dress shoes.
Is it true that Lars von Trier ordered you to hunger for “Melancholia” so you did lose the muscular “True Blood” body?
I really did lose weight, quite a bit actually. But Lars didn’t force me to do so. After I read the script, I thought that a footballer body wouldn’t be right for the film.
Is it possible not to fall in love with Kirsten Dunst when you play her husband for a film?
Just a second. It’s true: I had to take my shirt off for Lars von Trier. And he wanted less muscles. I tend to be slimmer and before filming a season of “True Blood” I eat lots of meat, go to work out every day, just so I weigh 10 kilograms more when we start filming. I mean 10 kilograms of muscles. For “Melancholia” it was the other way round. I lost those 10 kilograms.
You didn’t answer the Kirsten Dunst question.
Which Kirsten Dunst question.
If you can’t help but fall in love with her when you work on a film with her.
Yes, no. She is adorable, relaxed, funny. It was a pleasure to work with her. I hope she enjoyed it too.
Why do you like von Trier that much? Your film is presented in Cannes, has good chances to win a palm – and then he says he is a Nazi.
That was obviously a bad joke. And instead of clearing it up, he’s digging his own grave. But of course Lars isn’t a Nazi.
Are you at the most important point in your career right now? You could go the Jon-Hamm-way to be a famous actor. Or you could go the way of James France and be an unusual Hollywood star. Which way will you go?
I don’t have a master plan. I’m convinced that both is possible. Productions in Europe and then another blockbuster – which will pay enough that I can afford a warehouse in the desert just for my clothes.
When did you stop correcting Americans how to pronounce your name?
Right from the beginning. That’s hopeless. I don’t even introduce myself with the correct pronunciation. But it’s important to me that Skarsgård is always written with the circle over the a.
And how do you properly pronounce Skarsgård?
Thanks to Krissyma for posting these on her Tumblr page!!!
Alexander Skarsgard in Germany’s GQ Style Fall/Winter Edition
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Updated 10/16/2012 with new outtake photo – tack hotlads.tumblr.com!
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